As an entrepreneur in the digital technology and marketing space for more than 25 years, I can say with confidence and certainty that technology advancements are happening quicker than ever before.
These advancements are affecting our identity and all the issues associated with it: our sense of privacy, our notions of ownership, our consumption patterns, the time we devote to work and leisure, as well as how we develop our careers, cultivate our skills, meet people, and nurture relationships.
These advancements are already changing our health and leading to a “quantified” self, and sooner than we think it may lead to human augmentation. The list is endless because it is bound only by our imagination.
As I consider the future and its impact on associations, I often think about where associations fit in the change continuum. I wonder what will enable associations to be successful.
And, until recently, I worried how associations can advance.
But I don’t worry anymore because together, with Kevin Ordonez, we found a solution— .orgCommunity.
Network of People, Knowledge
For years, we would informally coach, mentor, and connect our colleagues and friends to the right people at the right time. We would host breakfasts or lunches to bring people together. We created meet ups for women, IT professionals, and other groups.
At the same time through our consulting work, we were witnessing many organizations dealing with declining or diminishing revenue sources, major changes in technologies impacting their members, scrutiny of the membership model, customers and members demanding more for less, customers desiring a high-level of customization and immediacy, staff talent becoming challenging to gain or retain, governance structures often hampering the ability to act quickly, technology not aligning with new business models, and the exploding of free information. Despite all these challenges and changes, we were experiencing association leaders staying comfortable with the “status quo.” While they expressed wanting to make improvements and stay relevant, they were not willing or able to make advancements for a variety of reasons—not having the right talent, poor governance structures, or the inability to be agile and take risks.
How could we help? How could we leverage our network we have built during 25 years? How could we share our popular templates and other intellectual property? How could we offer training services to help organizations think about new ways of delivering products and services? In December 2015, .orgCommunity became the answer to providing access to our network of people and knowledge. And it’s already making strides in helping associations become innovative.
Model for the Future Association
We have experience with an organization that has had a declining membership for a few years. This organization’s leadership has been unwilling to make hard decisions to change their future. An ineffective board, poor customer service, a lack of collaboration, misuse of volunteer time, few benefits to industry partners and increased programming costs are all contributing to its failure. While there are passionate members who will sustain them for a while, we are uncertain how much longer they can continue to operate this way.
This is too common of a story. This story and others have inspired us to share our knowledge and research we have gained from many successful association leaders to hopefully inspire others. Though our journey, we have had an opportunity to learn from CEOs who are leading their organizations with great success stories. They are creating cultures that support innovation. They are allowing their staff the freedom to act. They are investing in the right technology, staff and tools.
We are excited to be able to share their stories in the form of a book we plan to publish this summer. This book will provide powerful lessons learned in advancing associations and the various industries they serve. It will guide you through a process to help lead your organization through the fourth industrial revolution and adopt a model for the future association, or what we call “Association 4.0.”
Through this resource and others, .orgCommunity will serve to help others identify how to succeed in this exciting world with endless opportunities, and shape your organization for the future. It is our sincere hope that through this young organization, we will be able to help others grow, learn, lead and advance the missions of their organizations for many years to come!